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Party election expense returns

9 February 2006

Party election expense returns

- Labour referred to police for apparent overspend
- Nine parties slammed for lateness

The Electoral Commission is referring the New Zealand Labour Party to the police as it believes the party has overspent its election expense limit and committed an offence under the Electoral Act. (See sections 214B and 224.)

The party’s return of campaigning expenses for the 2005 general election discloses expenditure of $2,798,603 (including GST), which is $418,603 more than its $2,380,000 limit.

Meanwhile, commission chief executive Dr Helena Catt says the commission is “extremely disappointed with the lateness of many parties’ election expense returns”.

“Just 13 of 22 parties required to make returns of party election expenses with auditor’s report met the 19 December deadline set by law, and we had to seek clarification or corrections from eight of the 13. A further six parties have provided returns since 19 December, with three parties’ returns still to be received.

“Election expense provisions exist to help ensure a fair contest, so providing the necessary return on time is an important but small responsibility to meet for being a registered political party with the right to contest the party vote.

“The return deadline is fixed by law as 50 working days after the day on which list MPs are declared elected, which is known with reasonable certainty the day an election is announced.

“While the commission could refer the secretaries of late parties to the police, it’s not always appropriate to the circumstances, doesn’t help get the returns in on time, or meet the public disclosure requirements.

“We have been chasing parties for their returns and associated auditor’s reports. It is apparent that many haven’t given sufficient attention to planning. Only one or two party secretaries appeared to have reasonable explanations for lateness, such as illness or bereavement.

“It may be that an automatic late filing fee, for instance, would ensure parties got their act together in time. We’ll be raising this issue in the election review being conducted by the justice and electoral select committee,” Dr Catt says.

Registered Political Parties’ returns of election expenses and auditor’s report due 19 December 2005

Parties which provided a return by the deadline: ACT New Zealand#, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party#, Christian Heritage New Zealand, Democrats for social credit*, Destiny New Zealand#, Jim Anderton’s Progressive, The Alliance, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, Maori Party#, New Zealand First Party*, New Zealand Labour Party#, New Zealand National Party, United Future New Zealand#

Parties which were late: 99MP Party*, Libertarianz, One New Zealand Party*, Outdoor Recreation New Zealand, Te Tawharau, The Republic of New Zealand Party

Parties which have yet to provide a return: Direct Democracy Party, New Zealand Family Rights Protection Party, WIN Party

# clarification/correction requested and supplied after the deadline.
* clarification/correction requested and awaited.

ENDS

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